Impostor, Scholar, Procrastinator, Healer — Your Multidimensional Self

photo courtesy of Kimson Doan, Unsplash, cc
photo courtesy of Kimson Doan, Unsplash, cc



What if your multidimensionality could be divided into specific peopled-parts that you could identify, name, converse with, and learn from. What if you could bring all of those parts into a conference room and sit them down at a table for a discussion. (or for you more nature-y types to an ocean around a campfire) You may have heard of Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy. This is a version of that. Useful for exploring your psyche, processing problems and gaining insight.

Let’s say you’re stuck in a pattern of sabotaging your success. Invite the Saboteur to the table. Perhaps your perfectionism is keeping you from starting that project. Let the Perfectionist pull up a chair. Maybe you get anxious when you try to initiate a friendship. Make space for the Ruminator.

But, hey, these parts of you (also called subpersonalities) are not all neurotic or troubled! Who else is in your psyche waiting to be set free? Are you intuitive and a little witchy? Is there an Artist, a Goddess, a Weaver, or an Athlete? A Seeker? A Hermit?

Make a list of all of your many parts. Don’t forget the Traumatized Child or the Caretaker or the Couch Potato or the Shining Light.

Because you have a rainforest mind, you very likely have many parts. (Your very own inner community!) Don’t be shy. Make the list and, then, write a little description after each.

You see, this way, you don’t have to define yourself as depressed or anxious or hopeless. Instead, you get to see that a part of you is, say, depressed. And you can get to know that part and find out what it’s trying to tell you or teach you. But depressed is not all of who you are. It may feel like that on your worst days, but it’s not all of you. It’s a part that you can work with and grow to understand.

And that understanding can help you feel more self-accepting and hopeful.

There are resources where you can find out more about this technique. You can find it in books about journal dialogues or in the book Self Therapy. You can get the therapy theory in the book by Richard Schwartz, the originator of this model.

One more aspect to IFS, perhaps the most important, is this: Schwartz says that we all have an Essence or a big Self or a Divine Self. That is who we really are. The subpersonalities are how we most often deal with the world but at our core is our True Nature. The goal is to live as often as we can from that Self. You might be familiar with this if you’ve read Carl Jung. It makes so much sense but isn’t easy to achieve.

Knowing your Essence is an on-going process. When do you feel peaceful? Joyful? Deeply compassionate? Chances are, at those times, you’re in touch with your True Self. Make a list of those experiences. Are you painting, writing, meditating, singing, gardening, hiking, blogging, running? Practice deepening those moments as you gain awareness of your body-mind-spirit. Notice when a subpersonality shows up. Welcome him/her. Sit by the fire for a chat.

Getting to know all of your selves along with your Divine Self is one way to better navigate your rainforest mind. And to live as the fully complicated, adorable, multidimensional being that you are.


To my bloggEEs: Some of you have asked for more specific resources and ideas. I hope this helps. Let us know if you try it and what you discover. Thank you from my Blogger self. Big hugs and kisses from my Essence!

14063786_10208929148198523_1648417606332075114_nThis post is part of a blog hop via For more posts on the topic of Community click here or on the image.

Author: Paula Prober

I’m a psychotherapist and consultant in private practice based in Eugene, Oregon. I specialize in international consulting with gifted adults and parents of gifted children. I’ve been a teacher and an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon and a frequent guest presenter at Oregon State University and Pacific University. I’ve written articles on giftedness for the Eugene Register-Guard, the Psychotherapy Networker, Advanced Development Journal and online for psychotherapy dot net, Rebelle Society, Thrive, Introvert Dear, and Highly Sensitive Refuge. My first book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, is a collection of case studies of gifted clients along with many strategies and resources for gifted adults and teens. My second book, Journey Into Your Rainforest Mind: A Field Guide for Gifted Adults and Teens, Book Lovers, Overthinkers, Geeks, Sensitives, Brainiacs, Intuitives, Procrastinators, and Perfectionists is a collection of my most popular blog posts along with writing exercises for self-exploration and insight.

25 responses to “Impostor, Scholar, Procrastinator, Healer — Your Multidimensional Self”

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  1. How To Find A Mate With A Rainforest Mind | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] but your unconscious may be screaming, ” Hell no!” In your journal, explore your fears. Write to parts of yourself and be an empathetic listener. Maybe it’s your Wounded Child who is afraid of abandonment. […]

  2. Gail Post, Ph.D. Avatar
    Gail Post, Ph.D.

    Paula, Great description of IFS – and such a creative way of using it to help with gifted sensitivities. Very helpful ideas.

  3. Do Mi Stauber Avatar
    Do Mi Stauber

    I have been using this method for about five years now. I learned a playful, loving version of it from Havi Brooks at Fluent Self. She models listening to all of the parts, including the nasty monster ones, with love and acceptance, giving them funny names, asking them what they need, helping them find safety, watching them transform. I’ve found it to be incredibly powerful, and typing or writing a dialogue is the first thing I do when I’m not feeling right. “Hello, Anxious Me, what are you needing right now?” I’m often surprised by what comes out of my fingers. I do this with characters from my dreams and parts of my body too. For some reason, I can’t do it well out loud or in my head; it works best in writing.

    Here are a couple of posts from the Fluent Self blog that show where I got my inspiration:

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thank you, Do Mi. I was hoping that you’d share what you know about this!

      1. Do Mi Stauber Avatar
        Do Mi Stauber


        1. Carly Avatar

          Thank you so much for those links, Do Mi – what a fabulous site! After a quick search I found these two posts:

          I had never considered ‘fear’ as one of my parts. This really feels like a game-changer. My procrastination over a hated writing task just evaporated once I read the posts above and spoke to my fear… and I have every hope that this strategy will continue to work from now on. Thank you for introducing Havi’s site!

          And thank you so much for your blog, Paula. I’ve composed so many comments to your posts mentally but never committed them to screen. Your site is such a source of reassurance, wisdom and challenge. On the other side of the world, it’s making a difference to the lives of my children and me. Your posts prompt me to build on the progress I made with a brilliant therapist a few years ago. Thank you!

          1. Do Mi Stauber Avatar
            Do Mi Stauber

            Oh yay, Cathy, I’m glad you found it and it was helpful! Isn’t it amazing to give a voice to something that just seems like it’s there? I have tic syndrome, and I recently asked the tics what they were saying to me, and as a result found a strategy that calms them down. Wow.

          2. Paula Prober Avatar
            Paula Prober

            Thank you, Carly. I’m so glad you followed up on Do Mi’s suggestion! And I appreciate your taking the time to comment. I know it can be hard to figure out what to say…that’s probably a rainforest-minded thing! But telling me about your experience here warms my heart!! So thank you.

  4. Genealogy Jen Avatar
    Genealogy Jen

    Love this post Paula! I can’t wait to try this technique.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Let us know how it goes, Jen!

      1. Genealogy Jen Avatar
        Genealogy Jen

        I will Paula. I just need to make the time to sit down and do it. Procrastinator Jen is very persuasive…

  5. Lisa Swaboda is Atlas Educational Avatar
    Lisa Swaboda is Atlas Educational

    I remember a few years ago when I left my lifelong passion as a teacher due to a lack of autonomy and increase of standardization. It broke my heart, but also tore apart my core, as a teacher. It took me more than a year to get over that depression and loss finally realizing that I was still the same person and could work as a ‘teacher’ in a different capacity. What pulled me out was recognizing that the depression “wasn’t me”. It was actually in opposition to my true temperament and out for destruction. Lots of re-assembling of myself had to take place before I could move to acceptance and rebuild.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Makes sense, Lisa. Sounds like you were already using this process without knowing it!

  6. Karen Lamphier Avatar
    Karen Lamphier

    What are your thoughts on sharing this method with my 11 yr old rainforest son? On one hand, I can see this being an interesting way for him to identify his strengths, weaknesses, joys and so on. I’m concerned that he will turn it into an ‘out’, a way to blame another and avoid having to work to change anything! Would appreciate your thoughts on this.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I think children can definitely use this technique. I’m not sure how it could be turned into blame since all the parts are aspects of him. But maybe you’re saying, he could blame his inner procrastinator for not turning in his work? Something like that? Can you tell us more about what you mean? If that’s it, you could have his Procrastinator explain what he’s thinking and feeling and then get more information about what’s going on. Maybe there’s a Blamer who needs to speak out?? That would just be a part of him, too!

      1. Karen Lamphier Avatar
        Karen Lamphier

        Hmm, interesting. I see the point, to reinforce these are all ‘you’, and when ‘someone’ in there is struggling, it can cause the whole of ‘you’ to have a problem. His self-awareness is emerging, but he is not really ready to see how some of his questionable actions or habits get in the way of some of the things he wants. I can help guide him to one or two of the examples, but he, like many of us, keeps his heart’s desires largely to himself.
        I think we can work with this though, and it’s worth a try. Spouse? Not so sure, might have to wait til he’s away for a few days…

    2. Jane Avatar

      I use this with my gifted 5th graders as a writing assignment. I refer to their “committee”, one that they can call on to help them solve problems. Each one chooses a current personal problem–social, educational, etc.–and invites the committee to help figure out a solution. Once they have named their committee members, they write the script–who says what at the meeting–as they work together to solve the problem. It helps them see how the sides of themselves can be useful to them. (Plus, some of the characters are pretty funny!)

      1. Paula Prober Avatar
        Paula Prober


      2. Karen Lamphier Avatar
        Karen Lamphier

        That sounds awesome! The imaginative powers of kids at this age is just stunning.

  7. paperythinideas Avatar

    I like this idea. I felt a little teary to think about who might be seated around my table, but I see they all belong there really, like they wouldn’t know how to survive without each other, I suppose 🙂

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Yes, important not to leave anyone out and to see that they do belong and how they contribute to the whole. Thanks for sharing!

  8. helenjnoble Avatar

    Reblogged this on helenjnoble and commented:
    Just love this post!

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks, Helen.

  9. FredB Avatar

    See what you started? The Planner wants to rent a hall to accommodate all the others.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Fabulous idea, Planner!

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